Professional Service

Knowledge in Professional Service Firms (PSFs) – Part 1

Adopting a Method

In this five-part series of blogs, Dom Moorhouse of Method Grid and Paul Wilson of Provelio discuss the opportunities for professional service firms to increase the value they can add to the construction process by adopting enterprise methodology platforms (such as Method Grid) to capture their delivery methods.

As a side function of BREXIT, a 2017 Report was compiled for the House of Commons Committee on the size of the UK’s professional and business services sector. The Professional and Business Services (PBS) sector, in this regard, covers a range of diverse knowledge-intensive industries which provide specialised support to businesses. Covered sectors include legal services, audit, accountancy, advertising and market research, management consultancy, architectural and engineering activities and employment activities.

It was reported that the sector accounts for almost 11% (£186 billion) of the UK economy’s gross value added (GVA) and 13% (4.6 million) of employment.  The UK is a major exporter of professional services, providing 27% (£66 billion) of the UK’s services exports.  The sector we reside in is also strongly competitive, the UK within the top three exporters of these services in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2015 (with the US and France).

Within this, clearly significant sector, architectural/construction/engineering-related PSFs make up 16% of the overall GVA contribution.

Such PSFs frequently set the strategy, select the sites, define the brief and scope, procure and then monitor the delivery and, in more recent times, work directly with the supply chain on actual delivery.  In short, architectural/construction/engineering-related PSFs have a critical economic and advisory role to play: pivotal as they are to the developed outcomes of the clients they serve!

Despite advances in technology, the solutions deployed to manage, design and deliver such projects remain relatively static.  Key methods, such as the RIBA Plan of Work 2013, continue as the recognisable language for client, consultants and contractors – the deliverables for each stage remain common and familiar; even the approach to fees based on % of value and standard form of chartered body appointments remains a normal approach to engagement.  Yet the contextual backdrop of this PSF market is one of increasingly demanding environments, skill shortages, technology re-skilling, reduced profit margins and extensive re-work due to unaffordable schemes.

The trading currency of PSFs is the time of its people and it stands to reason that there is a desperate need to work more efficiently to ensure that the collected brain power is directed at our clients’ key issues and risks – as opposed to time wasted in the re-invention of the consistent.  Herein lies the problem that all PSFs face: we employ skilled-people that we value for their differences and uniqueness (that can be applied to ever changing complex problems) but we want them to do things consistently to ensure that quality and indemnity standards are not exposed.  We do not want to waste their time; we want to focus it on the greatest value generation they can offer to our end-clients.

In this regard, Method Grid and Provelio have worked together to capture the method for delivering complex construction plans of work.  This joint artefact (an enterprise methodology platform – loaded up with the detailed methodology) defines what is standard, where to find it, who to talk to, examples of best practice (in and outside your business), videos and weblinks and other related sources of knowledge.  We have been able to do this by analysing the delivery of hundreds of projects and finding out what is common to all.  These things that are common are at least 80% (if not more) of what needs to be done on every project.  They are tasks that can be carried out by technology or by junior or administrative staff.  And, by making the repeatable easy, your people can focus on the difficult 20% – those key project risks and issues unique to your specific client/project.  Such an invested solution means that the right things are done in the right order and re-work is avoided.

Let’s look at this through our clients’ eyes.  A common and valid frustration they often have is as a result of inconsistent levels of delivery service from their partner PSF advisors.  They want a service that is as reliable as a product; whilst retaining the ability for us to be creative when their special and nuanced needs dictate.  As such, having a reliable method, that captures the knowledge of your business, and the best practice of the industry, is good for the client, the PSF and the wider supplier team.  Having a robust, common method ensures an efficient use of people’s time, improved service quality, a reduced risk of dispute or error as well as a resource home for induction, training, marketing and tendering collateral.  All of which leads to improved competitiveness and profitability.  When you invest in such a method, time is effectively freed up in your operation – allowing your best staff to bring genuine innovation and premium service levels to your clients.

Part 2 will explore how to arrive at this 80% repeatable method; in the interim, you might want to watch an interview between Paul Wilson and Dom Moorhouse (where Paul describes how this was done at Provelio).

Source: Accessed 13 Feb 2019

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